Health Benefits of Magnesium

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Dr. David Brownstein[1] has found the following top 10 nutrients are deficient among his patients[2]:

  1. Iodine
  2. Vitamin B12
  3. Magnesium (Mg)
  4. Vitamin C
  5. Vitamin B1
  6. Vitamin D
  7. Sulfur
  8. Zinc
  9. Chromium
  10. Potassium

Other data from the government also show that: Approximately 50% of the U.S. population consume less than the required amount of magnesium for health[6, 7].  This inadequate intake applies to all Americans – regardless of age, gender, race, education or economic status. Because magnesium is vital to so many functions in the body, this suboptimal intake of magnesium has many scientists and healthcare professionals concerned[7, 8].

Health Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is essential to good health. Approximately 50% of total body magnesium is found in bone. The other half is found predominantly inside cells of body tissues and organs. Only 1% of magnesium is found in blood, but the body works very hard to keep blood levels of magnesium constant[8,16].

Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve[5] function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure[13], and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis[17,18]. There is an increased interest in the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Dietary magnesium is absorbed in the small intestines. Magnesium is excreted through the kidneys[16-19].

Additional benefits of Mg include:

  • Constipation
    • Magnesium is needed for normal muscle function, including intestinal muscles. One recent study examined the intake of magnesium with constipation in 3835 women. Low magnesium intake was associated with constipation[12]. 
  • Anti-stress mineral[20]
    • Relaxes your muscles, including the heart.
    • Used for poor sleep, anxiety, menstrual cramps, muscle cramps or spasms, high blood pressure[13], asthma attacks, and abnormal heartbeats.
  • Diabetes
    • Magnesium plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism. It may influence the release and activity of insulin[21].
    • In older adults, correcting magnesium depletion may improve insulin response and action[22].
    • In the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals' Follow-up Study (HFS), it shows that: Over time, the risk for developing type 2 diabetes was greater in men and women with a lower magnesium intake[23]
Overall, magnesium is essential for optimum health[3-5].   

    What are magnesium sources?

    • Food sources (preferred)
      • Green leafy vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, whole unrefined grains, soy foods, seeds and dried fruits, such as figs, apricots, and dates are good sources of Mg
      • However, the modernization of food has led to a decrease of magnesium, making it important to eat these foods on a consistent basis[9, 10].
    • Supplements
      • For those who are falling short in their diet, Mg supplementation may be recommended to fill in the nutrient gaps[8].
      • The best supplements are probably magnesium glycinate or other amino acid chelates.
      • These supplements are best taken with food and spread out in divided doses over the day, with meals. For example, you might take 120 milligrams of magnesium glycinate with each meal.
    • Intravenous (i.e. by IV) magnesium replacement
      • When blood levels of magnesium are very low, intravenous (i.e. by IV) magnesium replacement is usually recommended[8]

    If you have kidney disease (renal failure), check with your Health Care Provider before taking any magnesium products[11].  For patients with kidney stones, Mg supplements may have negative consequences, especially for patients with struvite stones.

    Struvite, or infected, stones are among the most difficult and dangerous problems in stone disease because of the potential of life-threatening complications from infection[15].  Struvite stones form readily in the urine of patients that are infected with ammonia-producing organisms. They are potentiated by alkaline urine and high magnesium excretion (high magnesium/plant-based diets).   Other facts include:
    • 10% kidney stones contain struvite stones.
    • These stones are found mainly in women with recurring urinary infections, paralyzed patients, and patients with abnormal urinary tracts.
    • Struvite stones are often called triple phosphate stones because they contain 3 different elements: 
      • magnesium
      • ammonium
      • calcium


    1. Dr. David Brownstein
    2. 5 Signs you'll Get Cancer And 7 Smart Ways to Prevent It!
    3. Rude RK, Shils ME. Magnesium. In: Shils ME, Shike M, Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006:223-247.
    4. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Magnesium. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press; 1997:190-249. 
    5. Vink, R (2012). Magnesium in the Central Nervous System. The University of Adelaide Press. Retrieved from 
    6. What We Eat in America. NHANES 2005-2006; usual nutrient intakes from food and water compared to 1997 dietary reference intakes for Vitamin D, Calcium, Phosphorus, and Magnesium. U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center Food Surveys Research Group. July 2009. 
    7. Rosanoff, A., C. Weaver, et al. 2012. “Suboptimal Magnesium Status in the United States: Are the Health Consequences Underestimated?” Nutrition Reviews 70(3): 153–64. 
    8. Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Magnesium. National Institutes of Health. 2009.
    9. Rosanoff A. Changing crop magnesium concentrations: impact on human health August 2012; Plant Soil. DOI 10.1007/s11104-012-1471-5 
    10. Thomas D. A study on the mineral depletion of the foods available to us as a nation over the period 1940 to 1991. Nutr Health. 2003; 17(2):85-115.
    11. Costco Connection (May 2013, Vol. 28, No. 5)
    12. Remedies for Constipation Relief
    13. Ultra-Longevity by Dr. Mark Liponis
    14. Dr. Oz’s 3 Key Supplements
    15. Types of Kidney Stones (Travel and Health)
    16. Rude RK. Magnesium deficiency: A cause of heterogeneous disease in humans. J Bone Miner Res 1998;13:749-58.
    17. Wester PO. Magnesium. Am J Clin Nutr 1987;45:1305-12. [PubMed abstract]
    18. Saris NE, Mervaala E, Karppanen H, Khawaja JA, Lewenstam A. Magnesium: an update on physiological, clinical, and analytical aspects. Clinica Chimica Acta 2000;294:1-26.
    19. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. National Academy Press. Washington, DC, 1999.
    20. Magnesium: The Anti-Stress Nutrient By Christopher Hobbs and Elson Haas from Vitamins For Dummies
    21. Kobrin SM and Goldfarb S. Magnesium Deficiency. Semin Nephrol 1990;10:525-35.
    22. Paolisso G, Sgambato S, Gambardella A, Pizza G, Tesauro P, Varricchio H, D'Onofrio F. Daily magnesium supplements improve glucose handling in elderly subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;55:1161-7.
    23. Lopez-Ridaura R, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Liu S, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, Hu FB. Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in men and women. Diabetes Care 2004;27:134-40.